Resisting Resistance: Thoughts on Oprah’s Interview with Steven Pressfield

Have you heard of author Steven Pressfield?  I hadn’t until someone shared the link to an interview he did with Oprah about his book titled, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.  You can watch the interview here.

The conversation centers on dealing with resistance.  This is something that I work with a lot with clients and have definitely encountered for myself, so I was interested to hear his thoughts.

He said many, many things that I agreed with, like:

  • Each of us is a creative genius, an artist.
  • We feel resistance most strongly when we’re about to dare greatly and grow spiritually.
  • Resistance is always connected to fear.
  • There is no magic bullet that wipes it away forever.  We’ll always experience friction from time to time.
  • The fears and negative thoughts aren’t who you are.  (We both think this one is key.)
  • There are times of quiet knowing when we don’t have resistance, when we’re in contact with our soul, our true self, the Divine.

I especially liked when he said that resistance is a sign that you are dreaming big and that you’re on the right track.

Where I disagree with Mr. Pressfield is in his seeing all of this as a battle.

In the interview, he said that Resistance as a devil, a dragon that needs to be defeated through sheer will and determination.  He says that he went through “seven years of hell” in his struggle to become a published author while he fought his way through his own resistance.

He also said that you’ll get through your resistance and do whatever you’re trying to accomplish when the pain of NOT doing it is worse than the pain of doing it.

For me, this is part of an old paradigm, the old way of doing things where the hero had to slay the dragon.  I believe when we prepare to go into battle against resistance and armor ourselves against a foe, we entrench the resistance.  In fact, we actually strengthen it.  

Resistance comes up when we’re going beyond where we’ve been before.  When we’re reaching for that bigger dream.  To reach it, we have to release the old patterns, habits and beliefs that used to serve us but don’t any more.

Instead of a fierce dragon, I see a snake that’s outgrown its old skin.  What was once protective and needed now binds us and constricts our movements and growth. 

Old patterns and the resistance to changing them come from our fears about losing this layer of protection:  fears about not being safe or not being big enough or good enough, or ready, or being unable to do the things we dream about.

We’re afraid we won’t be able to retreat back into our old skin if it’s all too much.

I believe the friction we feel in our lives helps us to shed our old skins.  It helps us to become a bigger version of ourselves.  There is no need to fight against it.

Instead, we can release the fears that cause the resistance.  As the fears are released, the resistance naturally diminishes and our attachment to old patterns and habits gets weaker.

All this can be done gently and very effectively with the energy tools available now.

The deeper picture in all this, though, is the balance of masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) energies.  Every one of us has and needs both.  The trick is in using each in the most effective way possible.

Instead of meeting resistance with a yang response of battle, we can meet it with a yin response of acceptance and release.  Yang energy is needed for taking action – an essential part of creating our lives and businesses. 

When our actions come from a yin connection to our highest selves, there is balance, grace and harmony.  This is when we’re living in flow and effortlessness.

I believe that this connection is what Mr. Pressfield means when he talks about moments of stillness when we’re in contact with our soul.  He and I have different ways of getting to those times and different ways of dealing with the resistance that inevitably comes up as we attempt to live our dreams.

I plan to read Mr. Pressfield’s book because I think I’ll find some practical suggestions for becoming more disciplined and taking action.  And I’ll continue to use my energy tools to make that process easier and more connected with my true self.

“Most of us have two lives, the life we live and the unlived life within us.  Between the two stands Resistance.”Steven Pressfield

My work is to help people more easily and effectively release their resistance so that the life they live gets closer and closer to the life within them.

How does resistance show up for you?
What are some of your avoidance and procrastination techniques?
I’d love to read about them in the comments section below.


Comments 5

  1. hello Sara
    thank you for being such a brright light on the path for me, also thanks for putting away the war mindset and helping me to develope a peace building mindset.

    Rick in fla

    1. Post

      Hi, Rick. Thanks for writing. I truly find that the less I struggle and the more I accept and release, the easier it is to move forward.

      Wishing you and all peace,

  2. Thanks, Sara. I have fire energy and so battle seemed to be the word that resonates with me. Yet at the same time I long for peace and flow which is something I truly admire and long for where the life I desire comes effortlessly. It’s actually what I desire. However, I wonder… Some years ago when I worked through some past issues with a counselor, his comment was “You sound more logical angry than when you’re reasoning”. I wonder if some of us are like fire energy and “war” is how we pave the way and for those who have like “water” energy are people who naturally flow. Is it possible that both ways of coming to what we choose for our lives “war” or “release” give balance to flow. I’m thinking out loud here. I also see how war brings escalation and calls for greater resistance.

  3. Post

    What a great question, Ramona.

    There are definitely multiple ways to do things, and some people are decidedly more fiery than others. Fiery energy is that wonderful yang energy I was talking about in the article. When it’s channeled into inspired action, it’s amazing.

    Whether you’re fiery or watery, it’s important to be true to yourself. And none of us is 100% one or the other.

    While acceptance and release might come more easily to some of us, I don’t think that it’s the exclusive domain of more watery (or yin) people. Even though I’m a watery type, I’m learning to claim and cultivate my yang energy to accomplish my goals.

    I would say that in the past, battling resistance was the primary way to get through it. What I’ve found in working with hundreds of people (including members of the Army’s Special Forces) is that the energy tools help us all – yin and yang – clear resistance in a way that’s much easier, faster and more effective than battling it. A way that doesn’t escalate the resistance or leave us feeling worn down.

    By accepting and releasing the resistance, you’re free to use that fiery energy to build the business and life that you want and to be productive in amazing ways.

    Thanks so much for writing in, Ramona. If you have any other thoughts you want to share about this, please do.


  4. Pingback: Releasing Resistance – When You’re Ready for Peace | ReFutureYourLife

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